Climate Assessment in the Workplace

This page brings together helpful information about the planning, performance, and evaluation of climate measurements in the workplace, as well as methods for the causal analysis of impairments of well-being.

Safety, health protection, and employees’ well-being in the workplace are influenced significantly by indoor climate conditions. Extensive scientific studies have been carried out into this topic and numerous benchmarks (e.g. comfort criteria) have been adopted in the fields of regulation and standardisation. Nevertheless, especially in office buildings, employees frequently complain about issues like draughts, dry or stale air, and inappropriate room temperatures.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (Arbeitsschutzgesetz, ArbSchG) requires employers to carry out risk assessments that systematically record, evaluate, and document the hazards and exposures associated with their employees’ work. In practice, however, difficulties tend to be encountered when these assessments are conducted and, consequently, when the evidence they provide is drawn on to plan suitable countermeasures. This is because, in addition to physical quantities, what are known as personal factors play a significant role too.

Physical quantities and personal factors

The assessment of the indoor climate involves analysing the quality, temperature, humidity, and velocity of indoor air, as well as thermal radiation. An unfavourable indoor climate will, for example, influence performance at work, attention, reaction times, and cognitive capabilities. Not only that, it can have negative impacts on employees’ health and the risk of accidents.
Apart from these physical quantities, consideration also has to be given to personal factors such as work intensity and clothing, and individual factors like acclimatisation and personal constitution.
When the work situation is analysed as part of a risk assessment, it is therefore necessary to look at all the factors that influence outcomes and the complex ways they interact. Only then can the actual causes for impairments of well-being or elevated accident and sickness rates be identified, then suitable measures stipulated.

How should this difficulty be addressed?

All this means impairments of well-being are not easily attributed to the indoor climate. The implication is that compliance with the limit values set by legal provisions is not what ought to be prioritised. Rather, it is necessary to highlight how the causes of problems can be identified during a risk assessment and what measures can be taken in response.

Further Information